Many of us know that when life gives you lemons, you should add them to your water. Along with soothing a sore throat, aiding in digestion, and flushing out toxins, drinking lemon water yields a number of health benefits . . . right? To find out whether adding a few slices is actually doing your body any good, we consulted Autumn Bates, a certified clinical nutritionist and personal trainer. Spoiler: the perks of lemon water are not a myth, but there are best practices when it comes to getting the most out of each squeeze.
How much lemon should you be using for results?
According to Bates, you can still reap the benefits of lemon water as long as you incorporate the whole lemon, including the peel. One study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition showed that certain polyphenols found in a lemon peel aided weight loss in rats with a high-fat diet. In addition to potentially helping you shed pounds, the fruit is packed with vitamin C. "One lemon contains a high amount of vitamin C that is needed to produce collagen in your body, boost your immune system, and regenerate glutathione (your body's powerful antioxidant used in daily detoxification)," Bates told POPSUGAR.
Bates recommends adding at least half a lemon (sliced) to eight to 10 ounces of water.
Is it best to add lemon to cold, warm, or hot water?
Warm water all the way. This temperature helps extract vitamin C and polyphenols from both the lemon and its peel. According to Bates, although vitamin C isn't heat stable — meaning it can degrade once it reaches a certain temperature — even a boiling temperature isn't hot enough to negate the fruit's benefits. However, warm water is ideal as its easier to drink in large quantities, while hot liquids have been linked to cancer by the World Health Organization.
What's the best time of day to drink lemon water?
Our body is extremely dehydrated by the time we wake up, so Bates says to grab a glass first thing in the morning. "While we sleep, we lose a lot of water through breathing," she said. "Hydrating with a warm glass of lemon water is best right when you wake up to help replenish what was lost overnight and start your day off on the right foot."
In addition to adding flavor to your water (and helping up your intake as a result), lemon can boost your immune system and form collagen in your body (which promotes skin and joint health), thanks to its high levels of vitamin C. But be warned: you may also be running the risk of thinning out your teeth's enamel by drinking lemon water all day, every day. Bates also shared that those with high levels of iron in their blood should limit their intake, as lemon can increase your body's ability to absorb iron.